Thursday, December 04, 2014

Ansbacher - Time to Publish, and Be Damned

Mary Lou McDonald may have impugned the august dignity of Dáil Éireann yesterday, but she has done the plain people of Ireland some service in doing it.

The entire political establishment has known the names on this infamous Ansbacher list for some time; now, thanks to Deputy McDonald, so do we. The plain people of Ireland, for one brief moment, are in with the In Crowd, and now know what the In Crowd knows. Or at least, some of it.

Will anything come of yesterday’s events? Who knows? If the Ansbacher list is just a list of unfounded allegations, then nothing will come of it, and all this will be quickly forgotten by history.

If the Ansbacher list is the goods on the most base corruption at the heart of Irish politics, the question then arises why Mary Lou didn’t drive the blade home and quote chapter and verse on the hows and whys of the thing?

The most likely scenario is that Mary Lou does not have the goods on these allegations, and is simply lobbing a high ball into the square, on the odds-against chance of it falling her way before being swallowed up by the full-back.

This would certainly make Mary Lou guilty of an abuse of Dáil privilege, and question her standing as a parliamentarian. But then, as the current Government cares not one whit for the Dáil, as demonstrated by its eagerness to guillotine debate and to run the country by the four-person junta that is the Economic Management Council, parliamentarian isn’t the title it once was.

It is interesting that, in this moment in history where we worship “whistle-blowers” – reader, do you remember one article that ever doubted Garda McCabe or ex-Garda Wilson, that ever wondered if these guys were just doing a dog even a biteen? No; me neither – isn’t it remarkable that nobody has sat down with Mr Ryan, the current whistle-blower, with a microphone, notebook and ballpoint pen?

The Irish libel laws are incorrectly balanced in the way they favour the establishment over the right to speak out and to question, so this makes the press a little more cautious than it ought to be. The fact that the journalism industry is currently falling apart like a three-dollar suit bought in Bangkok doesn’t help either.

But in abusing the privilege of that august chamber, Dáil Éireann, Deputy McDonald has opened a window for the journalists of Ireland to earn their corn. David Davin-Power reported on the Nine O’Clock News last night that Gerard Ryan’s report to Mary Harney is seven-hundred-pages long. So now it’s time to go through that report, and start seeing if things add up or if they don’t.

Why not publish it on-line, so we all can read it? Maybe it will be some enterprising Citizen Journalist who finally cracks the case.

Either result is fine, funnily enough. If Mr Ryan is simply an obsessive or a fantasist who can’t let this thing go, we ought to know. We ought to know for the good names of those who are currently under suspicion, and we ought to know so people aren’t completely gullible about conspiracy theories.

And if Mr Ryan is correct in his allegations, then we know that biggest lie of all throughout the 2011 election campaign was that not all politicians are the same. We will know they are exactly the same, and that we must find a new way of selecting politicians, the old one being clearly exposed as not fit for purpose.

The plain people of Ireland are in the slips, straining at the start. Time to turn finally open those closets, and see what comes tumbling out.